Inspiring Yoga Quotes

You may want to decorate your yoga space with artwork that includes an inspiring quote. Or, you may keep a list of quotes handy to meditate on during your practice. These famous quotes are classics that can help you focus on points of yoga practice and philosophy. Each has a history and a deeper meaning to explore.


Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. Ann Pizer

There are many possible translations of lokah samasta sukino bhavantu, but the simplest one is "may all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering." This lovely sentiment is often chanted in modern yoga classes. This mantra likely originated as part of the Vedas, which are ancient Hindu texts, though an exact placement has not been possible.


Yoga Is Not Just Standing on Your Head

Yoga Is Not Just Standing on Your Head
Ann Pizer

"Yoga is not just standing on your head...but learning to stand on your own two feet," ​is credited to Integral Yoga Founder Swami Satchidananda. It resonates with yoga teachers and students because it counters the popular image of yoga as glorified acrobatics. While learning to stand on your head or do other poses that are difficult for you is fun and gives you a sense of accomplishment, it's not really the purpose of a yoga practice. If the confidence you get from doing yoga carries off your mat and into your life, that's more like it.

Likewise, if you never are able to do a headstand, that doesn't mean that you're bad at yoga because no one posture represents the entirety of this practice. In fact, the postures themselves are pretty much beside the point after a while.


Practice and All Is Coming — Pattabhi Jois

practice and all is coming
© Ann Pizer

"Practice and all is coming" is one of several quotes used by Ashtanga Guru Pattabhi Jois to answer questions about the yoga method he espoused. This quote, though certainly flexible enough to answer any number of questions, applied to students who questioned the effectiveness of asana practice as a method to achieve enlightenment. It also points to the value of a long-term, consistent practice as encouraged by Ashtanga.


Yoga Teaches Us to Cure What Need Not Be Endured

yoga teaches us
© Ann Pizer

"Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured" is attributed to yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar. The popularity of this quote shows that it has great resonance with yoga students, many of whom attest to experiencing yoga's effects on their own bodies and spirits. This quote also captures Iyengar's approach to yoga in a nutshell. First comes asana, which has amazing ability to heal any number of physical ailments, as Iyengar experienced in his own life. Beyond asana is the effect of yoga on the mind, which students discover for themselves through sustained practice.

In his 2005 work  "Light on Life," Iyengar further explore this theme, writing, "Body will prove to be an obstacle unless we transcend its limitations and remove its compulsions. Hence, we have to learn how to explore beyond our known frontiers and interpenetrate our awareness and how to master ourselves."


Yoga Is 99 Percent Practice, 1 Percent Theory

© Ann Pizer

"Yoga is 99 percent practice, 1 percent theory." was a favorite saying of  Ashtanga Guru Pattabhi Jois. It means it's not that useful to sit around having philosophical discussions about how to become enlightened and the meaning of life. Instead, students should spend the majority of their time doing the yoga asanas prescribed by the Ashtanga method. In other words, get out of your head.


Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha

Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha
Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha. Ann Pizer

"Yoga chitta vritti nirodha" is a quote is which is often cited to describe the purpose of yoga asana. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is an ancient philosophical text. Sutras are short aphorisms addressing a particular topic, in this case, yoga. This is the second sutra and it provides a definition of yoga. Though there are variations on how this statement is translated from the Sanskrit, one common interpretation is "yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind." In other words, you are doing yoga in order to achieve mental clarity, stillness, and freedom from the monkey mind.


Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

Comparison is the Thief of Joy
Comparison is the Thief of Joy. Ann Pizer

"Comparison is the thief of joy" is a quote is often credited to Theodore Roosevelt, though it is not to be found in any of his writings. Dwight Edwards, a Christian author, sometimes receives the credit, but he says that he heard it from another Christian writer, J. Oswald Sanders. Whoever said it first, it has come to resonate with modern audiences and yogis in particular.

Yoga tries to teach that comparison is not a useful state of mind. It doesn't matter if you think the person on the next mat can do something better or worse than you can. If you think they are better, then you feel bad about yourself. If you think they are worse, then you use that to prop yourself up. Neither is a healthy attitude to have. Even comparing yourself right now to yourself in the past doesn't help you. Yoga works to make you feel content with who you are right now. When you feel that way on the mat, it starts to work its way off the mat.

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